Occupational burnout among otolaryngology–head and neck surgery trainees in Australia

Marco Raftopulos, Eugene H. Wong*, Thomas E. Stewart, R. Niell Boustred, Richard J. Harvey, Raymond Sacks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Surgical trainee burnout has gained attention recently as a significant factor leading to poorer quality of patient care, decreased productivity, and personal dysfunction. As a result, we aimed to determine the prevalence and associated risk factors for burnout among otolaryngology–head and neck surgery (OHNS) trainees in Australia. Study Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: National cohort of accredited OHNS trainees in Australia. Subjects and Methods: Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Trainee burnout was defined if any threshold of the 3 MBI domains—emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or personal accomplishment—reached an established high threshold. Demographic data on potential predictors of burnout, such as stressors, workload, satisfaction, and support systems, were collected from survey responses. Predictors were compared with the burnout status. Results: Of 67 OHNS trainees, 60 responded (66.7% men). Burnout was common among respondents, with 73.3% suffering from burnout in at least 1 of the 3 MBI domains (70.0%, emotional exhaustion; 46.7%, depersonalization; 18.3%, personal accomplishment). Trainee burnout was significantly influenced by training location (chi-square, P =.05), living geographically apart from social supports (odds ratio [OR], 3.49; chi-square, P =.007), number of years trained rurally or away from social supports (Kendall’s tau-B, P =.03), difficulty balancing work and nonwork commitments (OR, 10.0; chi-square, P =.03), training negatively affecting their partner or family (OR, 14.30; chi-square, P =.05), and feeling uncomfortable approaching a supervisor (OR, 2.50; chi-square, P <.0001). Conclusion: Burnout was found to be very common among OHNS trainees in Australia. The statistically significant predictors identified should be addressed to minimize trainee burnout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-479
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Australia
  • burnout
  • otolaryngology
  • registrar
  • resident
  • trainees


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